porfimer (generic name)

Photofrin (brand name)

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What is this medicine?

PORFIMER is a light sensitizing drug that is used in photodynamic therapy (PDT). This medicine stays in tumor cells longer than it does in most healthy cells. This targets the tumor cells for laser light therapy. It is used to treat Barrett's esophagus, esophageal cancer, and lung cancer.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • esophageal fistulas, varices, or ulcers
  • porphyria
  • recent or ongoing radiation therapy
  • tumors that are growing into major blood vessels
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to porfimer, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This drug is given as an injection into a vein. It is administered in a hospital or clinic by a specially trained health care professional.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

It is important not to miss your dose. Call your doctor or health care professional if you are unable to keep an appointment.

What may interact with this medicine?

  • alcohol
  • allopurinol
  • aspirin
  • beta-carotene
  • bexarotene
  • dimethyl sulfoxide
  • isotretinoin
  • formate
  • mannitol
  • medicines for blood pressure like amlodipine, felodipine, nifedipine
  • medicines that treat or prevent blood clots like warfarin, enoxaparin, and dalteparin
  • other medicines that may make you sensitive to the sun like phenothiazines, some medicines for diabetes, thiazide diuretics, griseofulvin, tetracyclines, sulfonamide, and fluoroquinolone antibiotics
  • steroid medicines like prednisone or cortisone
  • vitamins A and E

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

This therapy will cause swelling and pain at the site of the tumor with more secretions and mucus in the lungs or throat. Contact your doctor right away if you have trouble breathing or swallowing. Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not go away or if they get worse.

This medicine will make you more sensitive to light. Sunscreens will NOT protect from this new sensitivity. You must avoid exposing skin and eyes to sunlight and bright indoor lights (unshaded light bulbs at close range) for at least 30 days. This medicine stays in the cells of your skin and eyes for 1 to 3 months. You should continue to expose your body to regular light bulb light. Regular exposure to normal indoor lighting will help to breakdown the medicine in your body. The level of light sensitivity will be different for different areas of the body. After 30 days test your skin sensitivity by getting direct sunlight or bright indoor light on a small area of skin for 10 minutes. If there is no skin reaction, no redness, no swelling, no blisters, within 24 hours, you may begin to spend more time in bright light. If a reaction occurs, wait another 2 weeks before trying again.

Your eyes will be more sensitive to light after taking this medicine. Light from the sun, bright lights, or car headlights may bother your eyes. Wear dark sunglasses for at least 30 days after taking this medicine.

Do not become pregnant while taking this medicine. Women should inform their doctor if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information. Do not breast-feed an infant while taking this medicine.

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Last Updated: January 07, 2008
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